Monterey County Names 2019 Teacher of the Year

Mrs. Medina now moves on to compete at the California Teacher of the Year competition! 

Monterey County Office of Education

Leadership, Support and Service to Prepare All Students for Success

Dr. Deneen Guss, County Superintendent of Schools

Monterey County Names 2019 Teacher of the Year

Monterey County Names 2019 Teacher of the Year

Monday, Apr 23, 2018


Jessica Hull | Communications and Public Relations Officer, MCOE | 831.784.4245 (o), 209.679.4858 (c)

Marci McFadden | Chief of Communication and Engagement, MPUSD | 831.645.1263 (o), 831.706.6971 (c)


Meet the 2019 Monterey County Teacher of the Year!

Joanna Medina celebrates with hands-up alongside principal and students

Monterey, Calif. – The Monterey County Office of Education is pleased to announce that Joanna Medina of Monte Vista Elementary School in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District is the 2019 Monterey County Teacher of the Year. Medina and her school found out about the honor on Friday, April 20th when county and district dignitaries made a surprise announcement to the entire school at Monte Vista’s Friday welcome ceremony (view photos and videos of the event).

Medina’s history with the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District and Monte Vista Elementary School extends back to when she was a young student at the school. Not only was she a student, but she considered the staff at Monte Vista her family because her mom was also teaching at the school during the time. She fondly recalls spending many mornings, afternoons, evenings and weekends at Monte Vista - her home away from home, and to be able to come back and teach at the school in 1992 was a dream come true.

Medina has worked in education for nearly 40 years, has been with MPUSD for 25 years, and currently teaches fifth grade. She was nominated by peers in MPUSD and selected by a district committee as the district’s nominee in the countywide program.

“Mrs. Medina is so deserving of this recognition,” said Dr. PK Diffenbaugh, Superintendent, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. “She is a role model to her peers at Monte Vista, and districtwide. Her strength is connecting with students and building a rapport. She knows firsthand the critical role positive student-staff relationships have on student achievement and success.”

“Teaching is a profession grounded in love and Mrs. Medina exemplifies the dedication, passion, and care for children a teacher needs to lead students to success,” said Nancy Kotowski, Ph.D., Monterey County Superintendent of Schools. “A lifelong love of learning and the many hats she wears for her school and her district made her the standout choice for Monterey County Teacher of the Year.” 

The County Teacher of the Year is selected from Monterey County’s 24 school districts and represents the county at the state level competition later this year.

When asked what makes her an outstanding teacher, Joanna feels that it’s really the relational piece. “I feel my ability to connect and see beyond the behavior is my gift,” she states. She says that she has many students come in expecting to be “that kid,” but she embraces and cares for all students, stating “I cannot teach them the academics until I build a rapport and show them that I care for them.” And, once she builds the connection, she takes the time and effort to know the curriculum and teach according to each child through scaffolding and guided instruction.

Joanna wears many hats at Monte Vista Elementary School. Not only does she teach 5th grade full time, but she carves out time to give back to the community that has given so much to her. She provides leadership and professional development opportunities at her site, including actively participating in the BTSA program for at least 15 years. She works with graduate students on their preliminary credential and serves as a mentor teacher to help them obtain their full credential. She welcomes student teachers into her classroom and engages with the co-teacher program at California State University Monterey Bay.

She is a proud member of the school’s Instructional Leadership Team, attending various districtwide professional developments, learning and bringing back information and resources to her school site members. She is frequently tapped on to co-present as part of the ILT on instructional models and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. 

Perhaps one of the most critical pieces that she oversees is the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program. She serves as a school site lead at her school and the neighboring middle school to ensure no students are left behind. Her leadership has led to remarkable results, including the ability to turn Monte Vista’s school culture around in just a few short years, and making a real difference in the surrounding community with engagement and school involvement.

Mrs. Medina is now eligible to be considered for the 2019 California Teacher of the Year award. She will be recognized, along with other Monterey County nominees at a celebration dinner in Salinas in May.


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